31 December 2020

Gunna Steelworks - Cola & Ginger (@NLi10) @gunnadrinks @holland_barrett

I picked up a load of good soft/social drinks for the festive period.  For once some of these were FaceBook advert recommended - and not only looked good but were available on my local High Street -  praise the algorithms.

Spoiler pic at the top just because Instagram loves defaulting to the first picture (well the top half of it anyway).  We will get to the Steelworks Cola in a bit.

Here is the full collection of things - We've had the green cola and lemonade before (it isn't coloured green but eco friendly) and talked about them here. 

Lemonade easily good enough to have for (2nd) Christmas dinner though!  The rest are new to me - even if Gunna drinks have been around for a couple of years now I don't ever remember spotting them!

Gunna drinks seem to have positioned themselves as a harder non-alcoholic drink, in line with my social drinks philosophy. I made a special trip to Holland & Barrett to get these - and found three flavours.  They are on Ocado too so I can multipack and not have to carry them - should they meet our high standards.

First up we have the Steelworks Cola & Ginger.  I didn't expect to like this as much as the 'traditional' cola like Fentimans due to my aversion to ginger, but as my partner is a huge fan of ginger beer I expected this to be her favourite.  I was very much correct - the fireyness made this a lovely sipping drink for me, but hers was gone fast.  I'll be keeping this in stock in the house then!

Very high quality flavours and sparkle, and a great can.  Would work as a mixer or as a nice casual drink on a night out.

I'll be sampling the other two tonight (new years eve) as we stay in and catch up on a few movies that we've been meaning to watch over this festive time.

Stay safe everyone, get vaccinated where possible, and have a nice New Year!

30 December 2020

Sour Cream & Black Pepper Popcorn (The British Popcorn Co.) By @SpectreUK

Sour Cream & Black Pepper Popcorn (The British Popcorn Co.)

Everyone seems to be watching something or other on Netflix or Amazon Prime these days. It’s not enough to be locked down already, but now we’re snowed in too! These Sour Cream & Black Pepper Popcorn sound like a savoury treat for something to snack on whilst watching a movie. It also looks like we’ve just gone into Tier 4, which is total lockdown again, so we’ll need to watch plenty of TV series and movies over the coming weeks, if not months…

For snacking I do love black pepper flavoured crisps, but I’m used to having sea salt and black pepper flavoured crisps, rather than Sour Cream & Black Pepper Popcorn. I’m not all that keen on sour cream either. I generally try to avoid it when it’s put in front of me as a dipping sauce, although I don’t mind it with chopped chives so much. So I’m intrigued to find out what sour cream tastes like with black pepper instead.

On opening the packet there was mainly a sour cream and popcorn smell with a very mild black pepper and a little saltiness. On taste these Sour Cream & Black Pepper Popcorn were primarily sour cream with a very very mild hint of black pepper that is hardly noticeable. So if you like sour cream and popcorn; these are for you, however if you prefer black pepper flavoured snacks like me then these Sour Cream & Black Pepper Popcorn probably aren’t for you either!

Information on the packet; The 30g bag contains 2 servings at 82 calories each, with 5.8g of fat, 0.4g of sugar, and 0.17g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Sour Cream & Black Pepper Popcorn (The British Popcorn Co.)

29 December 2020

Cadbury Dairy Milk - Little Robins (Asda) By @Cinabar

Cadbury Dairy Milk - Little Robins

Well 2020 has been a tough year so I’ll be generous and try to forgive Cadbury for this lazy product. They obviously didn’t want to innovate too much this year, they didn’t want to invest in new moulds, they just wanted something quick and simple but seasonal. So at Easter we have mini Creme Eggs in a bag, this clearly inspired these Cadbury Dairy Milk Little Robins. They are essentially mini egg sized and solid (bar an air gap between the two halves) Dairy Milk chocolate. The only Christmas part is the wrapper but the wrappers are cute, they have large Robins on them and do look the part. These are nice as a seasonal stocking filler and they are nice because who doesn’t like Dairy Milk? That was a Rhetorical question by the way! :-D

Cadbury Dairy Milk - Little Robins

So yes we had some of these Cadbury Dairy Milk Little Robins catching up on some of the Christmas specials on the TV that we recorded, Ghosts is surprisingly silly and funny. We enjoyed the chocolate and I tried not to pause and think about how they looked just like Easter Mini Creme Eggs but without the fondant filling.

Cadbury Dairy Milk - Little Robins

28 December 2020

Snickers 99Kcal Chocolate Snack Bars (Tesco) By @Cinabar

Snickers 99Kcal Chocolate Snack Bars

During the break between Christmas and New Years I realised we had run out of the basics so I popped into our local Tesco Express to top up on bread and milk. On a shelf I spotted these Snickers 99Kcal Chocolate Snack Bars, and I picked some up to give them a try. At the till the man on the counter said “Blimey they are tiny what’s the point?” I said it is calorie counting he pointed out I’d bought multiple bars to eat, “touché I replied”.   :-D

Snickers 99Kcal Chocolate Snack Bars

I did however just eat one bar with a cup of coffee this afternoon so I think I have the upper hand, so long as nobody counts the calories of the slice of Yule log I had after my dinner. I am not officially calories counting until January as I still have Christmas goodies to eat! The bar was nice, it tasted like a Snickers, there was still a decent amount of nuts and it had all the right flavours. My problem is that is just looked so small and disappointing, all I kept thinking is I’d rather have a couple of Celebrations sweets which I think is about the same calories but is psychologically a nice treat having two wrapped sweets. I can’t explain that but some how this just felt like a weirdly shrunken bar. I bought the Mars version for spectre to try, looking forward to his opinion!

Snickers 99Kcal Chocolate Snack Bars

27 December 2020

Calyx Zobo - Grape & Hibiscus (bsaically Alcohol free Mulled Wine) @NLi10 @calyxdrinks

It's the 27th Dec here - we are in the Christmas Limbo period, but on Christmas Day I had one of the soft/social drinks that I'd been saving for a while because it sounded very festive indeed.

Calyx have made this Grape & Hibiscus drink (named Zobo) and it essentially sounded a bit like a festive mulled wine equivalent - but vegan and without the alcohol.

And it certainly looks the part - thick and red - and smells Christmassy too.

And the flavour?  POW!  It's really strong with the cloves and the spices really hitting hard.  Its a sipping drink for sure, but not one that's a chore to finish.  Consistently exciting and I wish Id picked up a second to bring too!

Turns out it's white grape - but more like red wine - I don't really understand the differences! And they have other drinks on their website too which I now feel compelled to try (although I got it from Waitrose I think).

To finish the festive experience here is Luna with the oversized fish toy my parents got her - I'm not sure she's that convinced - but we will see how it goes. 

26 December 2020

Traditional Mead (Lyme Bay Winery @LBWdrinksltd) By @SpectreUK

Traditional Mead (Lyme Bay Winery)

I hope you've all had a lovely, merry, and safe Christmas so far. Amongst the booze, beers and Mead Wines I had in with my other presents, I found this rather fetching Flagon of Traditional Mead from the Lyme Bay Winery, in Devon. I've tried their mead wines before, and have written about their Rhubarb Mead Wine in the past, and I was rather pleased to unwrap a bottle with another bottle of Traditional Mead Wine with my presents.

It says on the back of the flagon that mead is thought to be one of the oldest alcoholic beverages dating back to Babylonian times. I do love any kind of booze made with honey. This 14.5% volume Traditional Mead won Great Taste Gold in 2013. I generally have mead wine around this time of year as it's spices and sweetness warms me up, and complements a good strong cheese meal. However, my new bottle of Rhubarb Mead Wine will be cracked open in early Spring 2021, as it's Spring and Summer fruity flavours are enough alone to bring on the sunshine.

On opening this flagon of Traditional Mead there was a good strong smell of spiced honey and a touch of alcohol behind it. This deep brown mead tasted of strong, rich and sweet honey and light spices. The spices certainly warmed me up after a walk outside this afternoon fighting against the brewing storm. This Traditional Mead tastes so good, I'm wishing the flagon was ten times bigger. I could quite happily drink it all night, but I reckon I'd be plastered after a couple of glasses. Have a lovely Boxing Day evening!

25 December 2020

Chocolate Buck’s Fizz Candles (Waitrose) By @Cinabar

Chocolate Buck’s Fizz Candles (Waitrose)

I hope all our readers have had good safe Christmas this year. We may not have seen family as much as usual but I hope you all managed to have a good day and open a few prezzies. One stocking filler I’ve had are these Chocolate Buck’s Fizz Candles from Waitrose. Our local Waitrose is closing at the end of they year so I sort of realise this will be the last time we get Christmas treats from them.
Chocolate Buck’s Fizz Candles (Waitrose)

These are a Heston item but aren’t too weirdly flavoured. They are pretty to look at and topped with an almond flamer. The coating is a creamy white chocolate and the filling is a bucks fizz truffle. I assumed it would have been an orange with champagne and white chocolate flavour but the dominant taste was dark chocolate with a hint of booze and touch of orange. The flavour could have been so much more zingy with the orange but essentially It was mainly dark chocolate, not an ingredient in a Bucks Fizz at all. The flavours worked but I’m not sure they quite did the Bucks Fizz part for me. Ah well, still tasty. Merry Christmas everyone!

Chocolate Buck’s Fizz Candles (Waitrose)

24 December 2020

Colgate Smile For Good - Vegan Ecological Toothpaste (@NLi10)

 Well - it's the time of year for overindulgence - so I figured I'd share something a little different that I picked up a few months ago on an online shop.

While I think that some of this is very deliberate psychological branding (like putting gluten free on things that never normally contain gluten anyway) it's good to see the ideas behind it and the commitment to sustainability from Colgate.  But at £5 a tube we are currently paying for the privilege.

Ingredients on the front is fun, but the three promises - vegan, recycle tube and recycle box are all the main event here.  So what have they tweaked that made this possible?

Everything you need, nothing you don't, and if humanity still exists in 2025 then our toothpaste will all be like this.  Hooray!

Pack looks good though, simple, can separate it down for recycling easy enough - and importantly wash it out.  Shouldn't need to squish it against the wall to get the last out.

And the goo itself is a little grainier, a little odder in colour, but still decent minty toothpaste.  Still cleans without all of the artificial things that must be in the regular version - couldn't see what made the normal version non-vegan, maybe like tobacco they tested it on animals.

I planned to pick up some of the bamboo toothbrush heads for my electric toothbrush but H&B didn't have any in stock in the small store.

Overall I'm not sure I'm quite rich enough to take the plunge and only use this in future.  Will see how easily the recycling goes and if the prices get closer than the current five times.

Overall a good product, and a glimpse of our sustainable future.

Merry Christmas everyone!

23 December 2020

Pigs In Blankets Flavour Noodles (Sainsbury’s) By @SpectreUK

Pigs In Blankets Flavour Noodles (Sainsbury’s)

Last Christmas I had easily the best Christmas meal I've ever had. Strangely I've never liked Roast Turkey meals and we used to eat it at lunchtime too, which I found pretty overpowering for my poor tastebuds. I prefer massive gravy meals, especially if they have lashings of onions, at dinnertime rather than lunchtime where I seem to prefer just a good sandwich.

On the evening of last Christmas I had a pork belly roast with crackling on top served to me. It was just about the best thing I've ever tasted on Christmas day, and the leftovers took me a couple of days to get through afterwards. Of course there has to be ubiquitous roast potatoes, sprouts and other veggies, but also my favourite accompaniment has to be Pigs in Blankets on the side. I usually have quite a few too!

This Pigs In Blankets Flavour Noodles was produced for Sainsbury's. I can't tell whether Cinabar bought me the pot for a joke or not. What seems to be even more funny is the Vegetarian friendly sign on the front of the pot. So no meat in here then? However, I endeavour to persevere when I'm served up something like this to write about. I've already had a bacon sandwich for lunch, so I'll have a quick piece of buttered toast, which should go well with my quick Pigs In Blankets Flavour Noodles.

Pigs In Blankets Flavour Noodles (Sainsbury’s)

On pealing back the foil top there was a pile of dried stringy noodles and some herbs dotted around them in the pot. After pouring freshly boiled water into the pot and having a really good stir, I could smell the sage and parsley mixed in with the gravy. I couldn't detect any meaty flavours, such as bacon or sausage in the flavour of this Pigs In Blankets Flavour Noodles. It was tasty enough and after that good long stir the sauce become quite thick.

This was a filling and flavoursome noodle pot, but to me it just didn't taste of Pigs in Blankets at all. I'm not going to tell you Porkies, and say it did, because to me it didn't! Anyway the best news is that there is a pork belly roast in the freezer ready to cook for Christmas Day 2020, and I've also seen some trays of real Pigs in Blankets in the freezer too!

Have a very Merry, healthy and safe Christmas, One and All!

Information on the pot; The 80g pot contains 294 calories, with 2g of fat, 9.9g of sugar and 1.87g of salt. Vegetarian friendly! Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Pigs In Blankets Flavour Noodles (Sainsbury’s)

22 December 2020

Pigs In Blankets Mayonnaise (Sainsbury's) By @Cinabar

Pigs In Blankets Mayonnaise

I had a little look back at the items we have tried before flavoured with Pigs In Blankets, it almost all completely crisps. It works as a flavour for crisps too, meaty bacon, a hint of sausage and a few herbs this all works with crunchy crisps. This year Sainsbury’s have decided to go to the next level, I give you Pigs In Blankets Mayonnaise. What can I say, I didn’t know I needed it until I saw it!

As it happened we were having chicken, salad and sliced potatoes for tea so deiced to try this out on the side. I sort of realised as I was dipping my sliced potatoes in the Pigs In Blankets Mayonnaise I had accidentally recreated the crisps idea, but again it did work. I have tried ‘Baconnaise’ before and enjoyed it, I have to admit I thought this might be the same. I was pleased that although similar there was a softer flavour, less salty but still nice and meaty Tate that worked well as mayo. The twist of herbs was good too, and especially nice for potatoes and I’m looking forward to trying it with chips. I’d buy this again as it was a good flavour, I’m aware I many have to wait a year to find another tub!

Tomorrow though Spectre is reviewing another product flavoured with Pigs In Blankets, one that doesn’t so easily translate to the flavour.

Pigs In Blankets Mayonnaise

21 December 2020

Greggs Festive Fabulous Bakes (Iceland) By @Cinabar

Greggs Festive Fabulous Bakes

What says Christmas dinner better than a Greggs bake filled with roast dinner flavours? I actually bought these Greggs Festive Fabulous Bakes in Iceland not Greggs but had them in the freezer for a quick lunch. They oven baked easily and the pastry browned off nicely in the oven.

Greggs Festive Fabulous Bakes


The first thing I noticed about these Greggs Festive Fabulous Bakes is that the meat inside the bake is chicken not turkey, I like chicken but if you are going to go for festive theming I fell this was a missed opportunity. Everyone knows it is turkey at Christmas. The bake itself though was still lovely and tasty. The pasty was soft and crispy with a a nice buttery edge. The flavours inside were good, the chicken was moist, the bacon was a nice touch and I loved the herbs giving a stuffing like flavour. I’d happily have these Greggs Festive Fabulous Bakes again and keep some in the freezer for quick lunches, there isn’t really any need for the ‘festive’ label it is just a nice chicken roast dinner flavour in a bake.

Greggs Festive Fabulous Bakes

20 December 2020

Krispy Kreme Khristmas 2020 (@NLi10)

 It's a Christmas tradition at this point to get hold of this years festive variations of the Krispy Kreme, partly to see if they've run out of ideas yet - and partly because we love these things.

The Reindeer one I didn't eat - it's the standard caramel ring with a clever red nose plonked in the middle.  Very inventive but not really to my tastes.

The tacky Christmas jumper is a chocolate crème doughnut with a green iced top and gingerbread man and nice sprinkles.  I really approve of this - sure I'm more of a raspberry glazed kind of guy, but this has a good balance of icing sweet and more doughnut sweet and chocolate sweet inside.

We shared the remaining Santa's belly doughnut.  The doughnut itself was surprisingly empty.  Maybe they forgot to squirt this one, but the flavour of the top was very fruity so it may be deliberate.

Overall a success!  I'm not brave enough to go into town to try the fresh KK ones (and Tim Hortons which is great when you've visited the German market - but that's not here this year either) so these will have to do.

Merry Khristmas!

19 December 2020

Greene King Ice Breaker Pale Ale (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

Greene King Ice Breaker Pale Ale

I'm rather excited about this pale ale. This Ice Breaker Pale Ale was create by Greene King Brewery's Apprentice Brewers. I'm expecting something quite innovative from the "new industry talent" and also from the tuition of the World's youngest Master Brewer. The label states that the Apprentices were given the "freedom to break the boundaries of brewing" to create this unfiltered fruity hoppy pale ale. So breaking the boundaries with Ice Breaker - nice!

On opening the 330ml bottle of this 4.5% volume pale ale there was a definite fruitiness coupled with a floral herbal hoppy bitterness, and a hint of sweet pale malt at the back of the aroma. On taste this deep golden coloured Ice Breaker starts with a smooth almost creamy quality, I presume this creaminess resembles the "Ice". This is quickly followed by a sharp bitter herbal hoppy flavour which I presume is the "Breaker". That sharp herbal bite merges with fruity flavours and then mixes perfectly well with the sweet pale and possibly crystal malts which travel into the aftertaste.

Ice Breaker is indeed a well thought out and innovative craft pale ale. It's a credit to Greene King Brewery, and the Master Brewer and not forgetting the Apprentices. They should be very proud of what they have created here. I feel the Apprentices will be the Master's very soon indeed!

18 December 2020

Tony’s Chocolonely - Dark Mint Candy Cane Chocolate (Sainsbury's) By @Cinabar

Tony’s Chocolonely - Dark Mint Candy Cane

It is Christmas chocolate time!!! We have a bar from a brand I haven’t tried before, and it is flavoured with Candy Cane, I love peppermint so I was really looking forward to trying this large Tony’s Chocolonely - Dark Mint Candy Cane bar. It is large, it is quite heavy and quite thick. I unwrapped the chocolate and the bar itself made me smile, it was shaped liked a Christmas tree decoration (complete with hole for a thread) in a cracked chocolate background. There was no way this was going on our tree this was going in my mouth!

I broke a piece off the Tony’s Chocolonely Dark Mint Candy Cane bar, which was easier said than done. This chocolate is seriously chunky! The chocolate is a 51% dark chocolate, so the cocoa is rich and dark but the chocolate is still sweet. There is peppermint candy cane scattered throughout the bar, and it adds a decent amount of peppermint and crunch but honestly as a mint fan I would have liked more. Due to the distribution of bits some bites of chocolate were wonderfully minty others were too mild. For me though the biggest problem with the bar, the thing that would stop me buying it again, is the size of the pieces. The chocolate is too thick, it is annoying to break off and not fun to chew on, if it was half the thickness it might not look so amazing but I would enjoy it a lot more!

Tony’s Chocolonely - Dark Mint Candy Cane

17 December 2020

(Home) Cinema Snacks - Tesco & Cofresh Shells, Grills & Chips (@NLi10)

Lockdown is fast turning into my childhood - going out is not an option, so we stay in with bad 80s movies and cheap snacks.  The difference is that the movies appear on demand from the Disney Plus service instead of the Video Rental shop!

The snacks are fairly similar, cheap brands from local shops - imitations of the real thing?

Well - for these they are both pretty great.  We already know that Cofresh make the best easily available spicy crisps round here - and that these lemon chili shell grills are amazing.  The discount versions of KP skips always seem to have a sharper flavour and while they aren't quite as melty this has never really proved to be too much of a problem for me.

Tapioca and Potato based goodness - and both very much veggie.

Look how presentable they are - all ready for the Strictly Grand Final on Saturday (I'll be watching Eurovision on YouTube Live - but I suspect most people won't be)

And while these were picked up especially we already had this scrunched up bag of chips - but not like the Americans - oh no!

Look how stick like these are

These always felt like the smart crisp to get - maximum filling bulk for your money - and as such still have a sweet spot (savoury spot) in my heart.

Hopefully I won't finish them all by the weekend.  I'm making no promises!

16 December 2020

Christmas Pudding McVitie’s Digestives (Asda) By @SpectreUK

Christmas Pudding McVitie’s Digestives

I recently wrote about McVitie's VIB Classic Caramel Bliss biscuits and rather enjoyed them. Cinabar recently wrote about their Gingerbread flavoured biscuits, and enjoyed them so much she refused to share them. She has since bought me a packet on a two for one deal, and then hidden her packet away from me. Not all that Christmassy of her is it? They must be good. Anyway, these Christmas Pudding McVitie's Digestives are milk chocolate coated digestives with Christmas pudding flavouring. I've been keeping them back to write about them closer to Christmas for obvious reasons. So what do they taste like?

Christmas Pudding McVitie’s Digestives

 On opening the packet of these Christmas Pudding McVitie's Digestives they look pretty much just like any other chocolate biscuit. There is a slight fruitiness in the chocolate digestive aroma on pealing back the wrapper. There is the usual digestive biscuit crunchiness on first bite, and then the smooth and creamy milk chocolate coating mixes in with the taste. There is then a fruitiness and a warming touch of cinnamon spice in the flavour. I'm not sure if these Christmas Pudding McVitie's Digestives taste of a Christmas Pudding per se, but I certainly received a good dose of fruitiness, such as fruit cake flavours and a touch of cinnamon spice at the end of every crunchy chocolate biscuit.

These Christmas Pudding McVitie's Digestives are very moreish indeed and definitely taste of Christmas. They are very flavoursome biscuits and I'd certainly have them again. I ate the packet over three nights and didn't share one of them with anyone! Ha…! The first night I had a few biscuits with a mug of tea. The second night I had some more biscuits dipping them in creamy vanilla ice cream, which was pretty much food of the Gods. The next night I had them with a pint of Titanic Plum Porter. Mmm… now that's Christmas!

Information on the packet; Each 14.7g biscuit contains 73 calories, with 3.4g of fat, 4.1g of sugars, and 0.1g of salt. Please see photograph for ingredients.

Christmas Pudding McVitie’s Digestives

15 December 2020

Christmas Hot Chocolate (Whittard) By @Cinabar

Christmas Hot Chocolate (Whittard)

On Black Friday I was buying hot chocolate online. It might not be everyone's first choice for a bargain but I frankly I’m a fan of expensive hot chocolate and an online discount makes it more acceptable. Plus Christmas time means Christmas hot chocolate which is also one of my favourite things, usually because of the addition of cinnamon, my favourite spice.

This new Christmas Hot Chocolate from Whittard this year is flavoured with nutmeg, cinnamon and spiced plum which sounded like a winning combination to me.

I made the drink with hot milk and it mixed up easily. Some of the Whittard milk chocolate drinks are quite strong and almost taste like dark chocolate but the fruit flavour from the plum sweetened the drink and helped make it taste softer. It was quite different but worked well. The cinnamon and nutmeg were a delight too, they added a warming spice and it was a nice Winter touch to the drink. It might be expensive hot chocolate but the drinks from Whittard really are quality, this Christmas Hot Chocolate is no exception. All I need is to get some additions for the drink of whipped cream, marshmallows and then stick a Christmas movie on for the full effect.

Christmas Hot Chocolate (Whittard)

14 December 2020

Heston Night Before Christmas Mince Pies (Waitrose) By @Cinabar

Heston Night Before Christmas Mince Pies

Oh Heston I never quite know what to make of you. I like different, this blog is helped because I like different things and new varieties but the items from Heston can go either way. I have never once eaten a mince pie and thought that needs carrot but here we are, Heston thinks they do. Or at least he thinks it would be fun to add a bit of carrot for Rudolph and Sherry for Santa and include them in the recipe as part of a Christmas Eve theme. I bought them even thought I was unsure because well, what else could I do.
Heston Night Before Christmas Mince Pies

Inside the box are six pies, they are quite large and don’t quite look like tradition mince pies, they are covered over in pastry, and are flatter than usual. There was also a sachet of smoked sugar, I don’t how that fits into the Christmas Eve theme, Santa in a smokey chimney perhaps? I started by opening that and sprinkling it on, the smell was a little too strong of smoke for my liking but I was trying to buy into the moment.

Heston Night Before Christmas Mince Pies

Thankfully the sugar didn’t add too much smoke to the flavour, the pastry is thick but sweet and tasty. The mince meat came with a hit of sherry and was delicious, there was a delicate bitter edge which I think was carrot and these worked. Mainly because the smoked sugar wasn’t too strong! Heston I apologise for doubting you, this one was a success. You made it sound exciting but didn’t really mess with the traditional flavours too much and this worked for me. I would actually buy them again!

Heston Night Before Christmas Mince Pies